Wednesday, April 14, 2010

52 - The Season of Second Chances; Diane Meier

 
 Joy Harkness is a smart 40+ something woman who lead an insulated life working at Columbia University in New York. In NYC she had lovely "apartment with a great view", and a  life that was comfortable, but she also had a past and the emotional baggage that goes along with it.

An opportunity presents itself for Joy to leave the big city behind, for a start up project at Amherst College in the quaint college town of Amherst, Massachusetts.  Joy quickly packs up the things she can't live without and leaves NYC for Amherst, MA. With her emotional baggage intact, she impulsively buys a huge, run down old Victorian home.

"If you've ever moved, you understand that people will stay in the most deplorable environments simply to avoid considering things that belonged to the people they no longer are.  This is not just a job of hauling heavy belongings; this task confronts memories too painful to life."

"There is the picture of your mother looking beautiful and fragile in a Norell dress, taken the day she told you that she would have been happier without children."

In NYC, Joy was happy with her solitary life. She spent a lot of time alone and no one ever pressured her to do otherwise. In Amherst, her life is very different. She finds herself busier than ever living in a small town.  As the other professors and people she meets press her to go out and get involved, she has a hard time saying no.  Her contractor Teddy, also plays an important role in Joy's transformation of sorts.  As the home renovation progresses, and she actively gets involved in all the decorating details, Joy begins to see her new place as something more than just a house.

MY THOUGHTS -- The Season of Second Chances was a terrific debut novel. It was one of those wonderful stories that drew me in from the very first page and held my interest along the way.  One of the things that I liked best about this book was that I love the setting Amherst, MA.  It is a quaint college town where I've spent a lot of time, and many of the places mentioned are real, so that was a nice bonus. The story has likable characters, an appealing writing style, and it left me happy that I read this book. If you are looking for a lighter, feel good read, give this book a try. The title is perfect too.  RECOMMENDED - (4.5/5 stars)
                       (Review copy received from Publicist)

35 comments:

  1. This sounds fantastic! I'll be reading it soon for sure!

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  2. Your review really makes me want to read this book.

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  3. As a 40 something woman, I know it is time for me to come out of my shell. This book may just be one of many nudges I am getting lately. I will put this on my list.

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  4. I'm looking forward to reading this one, Diane. Everyone seems to be having a good experience with it. :-)

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  5. I'm drawn to books set in places I'm familiar with too. It's interesting to see how the author interprets its characteristics and how they work in the story.

    I like the quotes you used too, very insightful.

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  6. I love reading books set in places I know. I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much, Diane!

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  7. This sounds like a book that I would enjoy. Nice review!

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  8. This one really sounds like something I'd enjoy, especially the part about "running away" from NYC to a small town. Amherst, MA sounds lovely to me, but for a NYer who has "hidden" in the anonymity of large cities, it would be like culture shock to move to a small town. Sounds like an emotionally turbulent experience.

    The part about renovating the house sounds fun, too.

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  9. It's always cool when you read a book set in a place that you know and you recognize certain areas! I am glad you liked the book. It does sound like quite an interesting read. I will have to look for it!

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  10. I like the sound of this book! I'm going to add it. Good review!

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  11. I won this one from Bookfan Mary and haven't gotten around to it yet so I just really looked at your thumb up and a quick comment at the bottom. Once I read it I'll be back for the full review.

    Hope all is well with you. have a great week, happy reading.

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  12. I thank you for this. I hadn't heard of it, and your words make me want to read it. I love the whole small town/house renovation as transformational elements.

    Do you speed read, Diane? Really, I am astounded at how many books you've read.

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  13. I really enjoyed this one as well. I wanted to put quotes in my review but my review was long enough. There were so many passages that struck a cord with me.

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  14. That sounds lovely indeed, and just the sort of pick me up I need!
    I have been to Amherst - I visited the Emily Dickinson House. I thought it was a lovely place!

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  15. I think I just read a review of this book yesterday and now with your own review, I want to read this novel, as I really like the sound of it. Thanks!

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  16. I'm glad you liked this too!

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  17. I've always loved the idea of second chances. I found that life began at 40, but then fell apart at 45 :) And then bounced back at 50! That's life for you--very unpredictable, but every experience can make you stronger.

    Wow... 4 1/2 stars! I'll keep it in mind.

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  18. I just reviewed this one too! Wasn't it a fun read? The setting really drew me in as well.

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  19. I always enjoy books that have settings that I am familiar with too! I just feel like it draws me into the story even more.

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  20. I'm glad to hear you liked this book too - I read and enjoyed it too. Great review!

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  21. It is always fun to read a book set in a place that you are familiar with!

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  22. I wanted to read this already, but after hearing her at the Empire State Book Festival last weekend, now I have a much stronger sense of urgency. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  23. I'm so glad you like this one so much! I just started reading it yesterday and I too am really liking it :)

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  24. Diane, this does sound really good. I may need to add this one to the TBR stacks! :)

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  25. Definitely going to pick up this one! Thanks for the review :)

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  26. I'm glad you liked this one Diane. I'm working on getting it read now.

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  27. Having moved over twenty times, I LOVED the line about moving. Now I'm interested to read the rest so it's on my list. Thanks for the review.

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  28. I just skimmed this review because I have a copy to read here.

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  29. P.S. I have an award for you -- just to say thank you!

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  30. I really liked this book too! Joy was such a complex character.

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  31. A light, feel good read is what I need. Thanks for the review, Diane!

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  32. Wow, very convincing! You're making me regret that I did not read this. Sadly, I'm trying to focus on other literature these days. Maybe sometime n the future I'll consider this. Thanks for the lovely review :)

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  33. This looks excellent. Adding it to my wish list.

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